Home Value Downdraft Near Santa Monica Airport?

Santa Monica is a quaint beachfront town with an easygoing lifestyle that includes almost-daily farmers markets, green buses, and a strong school system -- all things that lend it strong real estate appeal.

One problem that's plagued Santa Monica Real Estate, though, and particularly neighborhoods like Sunset and Ocean Park, is the sound of aircraft from Santa Monica Airport. Locals claim recent routes have made the noise worse, as have increases in the number and size of planes that land there -- noise from prop planes is not the same as from private jets, which are rising in number.

The Los Angeles Timesreports that the Federal Aviation Administration is testing a new route which would take planes over certain neighborhoods in foggy and cloudy weather. That has local residents worried about possible effects on the quality of life which already is believed to have eroded because of FAA practices.

With its proposed routes agitating citizens -- and the property market already struggling -- is Santa Monica Airport going to be a growing problem for Santa Monica real estate?
Santa Monica Airport has operated since 1919. Basically, Santa Monica and Los Angeles have grown around the airport, creating what can now be called, at best, an issue between the city and the FAA. In question is the air quality, the noise and the distance from the airport to nearby homes.

According to the Santa Monica Argonaut, "tensions between Santa Monica officials and the FAA have surfaced again recently following the city's request for an extensive environmental review of a proposed plan to change the flight departure rules for piston-powered aircraft at the city-owned airport."

Santa Monica has not taken the problem of noise lightly. The same Argonaut article says that Congressman Henry Waxman is calling on the FAA to suspend the tests and hold public hearings on the matter, something that has not been done. In the past the City of Santa Monica has pursued legal action against the FAA, so this is not only a war of words.

While quality of life is a hot issue for residents and politicians, local Realtor Kate Bransfield of Coldwell Banker looks at real estate.

"The airport has become a factor in properties" says Bransfield, who has been in the business for 20 years. "Those that are in the flight path -- it hurts their price, definitely. I have a listing now on Marine Street in Santa Monica and I have one on Navy that I sold, and if they were away from the flight path they would sell for way, way more."

"But, that said, I don't think that people are more concerned than they have been."

Longtime resident Tony Yollin of Yollin Properties in Venice has heard the planes for years, but doesn't think it a big deal. As a Realtor, though, he's been affected by the airport.

"I sold a house and the guy backed out because of airplane noise," he says. "That was about 12 years ago."

But in every problem there is a bright spot. Bransfield says the airport can be a plus. "The upside to it is that some people, were it not for the airport, could not afford to live here and send their kids to the schools. But because they're near the airport or in the flight path, [prices] are lower," she says. "It's like when people buy on a busy street, that's why they can live there."

UCLA Medical Center recently released a public health report on many health factors related to the airport, after hearing numerous complaints. The findings show that the air around the airport has elevated levels of black carbon and other particles that can cause health issues, and that the noise is above FAA-approved levels.

Whether the City of Santa Monica succeeds in limiting the FAA in its choice of flight paths, one thing is for sure: With the increase in traffic flying into the Santa Monica Airport, and with private planes getting bigger and louder, the noise from the formerly small airport will continue to be an issue.

As Bransfield notes, "Who wouldn't want to live without planes taking off over your head if you had the choice?"

See homes for sale in Santa Monica, Calif. at AOL Real Estate.
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